What’s in Your Plan?

We all know we need to plan ahead for a time when we won’t be able to speak for ourselves.  A crisis can occur at any time, regardless of age or current health.  Sadly, it can happen in the blink of an eye.  In my career of handling estates, I have seen young clients pass away suddenly, as well as crisis situations occur with our elderly loved ones who fall, have a stroke, or can no longer care for themselves.  So much can happen; if we are honest, we simply choose not to seriously think about these issues until they are upon us.  Sometimes, that is too late.

When your time comes to an end. A scroll of a Last Will & Testament, tied with a black ribbon on a mahogany desk, with pocket watch set to midnight: the end of time.

Have you thought ahead to make a plan for your cherished possessions, or at least gift them prior to passing away?  I encourage everyone to make a plan and put it in a legal document.  Write an addendum to your Will, or place certain items in a Trust if they are special to you.  An estate planning attorney can help you put these documents together fairly quickly.  Put these documents in a safe place, discussing the contents with the executor.  The attorney will keep a copy.  Let a close, trusted friend know what you are doing and where the originals are kept.

Things to think about:

  • Plan for special possessions.  It is not realistic to think our kids will want all of our possessions.  First, find out what they would like to have, then have those items appraised for fair market value.  Create a “wish list” and keep it equitable; leave guidance on who gets what.  It’s all spelled out in my book, “The Boomer Burden”, available at online booksellers.
  • Plan for your animals should you pre-decease them.  We adore our furry and feathered family but rarely do we make a plan for them.  This leaves them in limbo.  It’s not fair to them or the loved ones left behind to make painful decisions.
  • Consider gifting while living.  This minimizes future feuding and cuts down on challenging issues when the children/heirs have to divide the estate.  Seeing the joy on the recipient’s face is an added bonus!
  • Make sure someone knows the location of all private files, passwords, keys, titles, deeds, safe deposit boxes, safe combination.  This information should be entrusted to your executor (someone you trust implicitly).  Note: Multiple executors can often mean more complications and differences of opinions!

I have clients right now who put together a “master binder” of all the things we are discussing here, including written directions on where private documents can be found, such as social security card, Medicare information, life insurance policy, original Will/Trust, etc.  They prepaid their own funerals.  They asked me to write current appraisals for their furnishings, collectibles, and jewelry, and have made copies for each child.  They were even nice enough to direct their children to me when they pass away, to handle the contents of their home, since all their heirs are long distance.  Quite literally, they left a “Guidance System” for their children.  How wonderful!

Think ahead to special possessions you have received and collected over your life.  While no one can make plans for everything in their home, make plans for these valuable items now so no one can feud over them later.  When the decision is made ahead of time, you’ve simplified the life of your executor.

©2016 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at julie@theestatelady.com.

“Skeletons,” Secrets Cause Strife

From cleaning out estates all these years, I have learned that many people have “skeletons” that need to be dealt with prior to their passing.

In the land of the forgotten (attics, boxes in the back of the closet, locked trunks, hidden in barns or sheds, etc), we find things I can’t even talk about without teary eyes.  I do my best to let go, or tuck these things away somewhere in a spare brain compartment, hoping not to think of them too often.

It is not unusual to find love letters, adoption papers for a child that never knew they were adopted, or evidence of an extramarital affair.  On occasion though, we find things like suicide notes, drug abuse issues, different levels of pornography … some so bizarre it challenges my understanding of humans.  These still leave a mark of sadness upon one’s soul.

We see the dark portals in people’s lives after they leave.  We will never have a clear understanding of why these people did what they did, made certain decisions, or why on earth they would ever leave those secrets behind to be found.  I think to myself how fortunate it was that my company was the one who found those items, instead of a family member who may be traumatized for the rest of their life.  It is my cross to carry … discretion and protection.

Uncovering these secrets casts a shadow which can change your feelings about the person who has died, not to mention seriously tarnishes their personal legacy.

Some things need to be told to the family

and some secrets need to go to the grave with the deceased loved one.

Remember: The dead cannot defend themselves or their actions.

It is difficult to write these things.  We must not only think about ourselves and what we desire, but we must think about those we leave behind and what they may find.

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Clean your home and clean your life! 

Leave a legacy, not strife!

©2016 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 11:05 am  Comments (1)  
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Just in Time for Christmas

You know how passionate I am about helping people deal with their stuff or a family member’s estate.  If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you have seen me talk about tips, options, and solutions based on decades of experience.

I decided to take my best knowledge and pack it all into a new book, “What am I Going to Do With All My STUFF?”  This book gives you step-by-step direction and best practices for the downsizing process.

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When you have no idea where to begin, I give you the resources and brain of an expert,  including the pros and cons of each possible option, for making solid decisions when it is time to simplify or downsize your personal property.

Based on 25 years of my experience and insider know-how, this book will give you all the following:

  • Where do you begin?
  • Understand value and the characteristics of value
  • How to thin out the house one room at a time
  • Determine your options for selling: Pros and Cons
  • Handle large collections and items of value
  • Determine what to keep, sell, donate and discard
  • Overcome potential obstacles and factors that hinder the process
  • Find professional help you can trust
  • Avoid the mistakes people make
  • Make peace with letting go

It’s available online at Amazon.com in e-book and paperback formats.  Here’s a quick link to the e-book: E-book purchase

Here’s what one reviewer says about the book:

Overall, if you are facing the task of cleaning out a deceased loved one’s home or are simply trying to downsize the clutter you have in your home, this is definitely the book for you. Ms. Hall is very clear and concise with her suggestions and methods, and in the end, you will feel accomplished and at peace with a job well done.

Here are another reviewer’s observations:

Though Hall notes that the target audience of this book are baby boomers, I feel that adults of all ages will benefit. She gives you a plan on how and where to start the process of shedding material possessions.

I am writing this review on Black Friday as the media keeps telling us to buy more “stuff”. Instead I’ll remember Julie Hall’s advice, “Give to those who are really in need. That item that you ‘might need one day’ is needed every day by someone else.”

Actually What Am I Going To Do With All My STUFF? will  make the prefect gift for the holidays. I think my husband, mom, kids (who are in their 20’s), and many friends will benefit from this book.

I am passionate about educating people, so I’m proud to present this project to you, my readers.  Best regards as you let go and simplify your stuff.  Here’s to a 2016 with less clutter and more calm!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

Procrastination is Risky!

“When the boat reaches midstream, it is too late to mend the leaks.”

~ A Chinese proverb

Mary was 96 years old and had a lovely 3-bedroom home filled with antiques and collectibles passed down from previous generations.  With great pride, Mary had done everything right with these heirlooms.  She left all items in their original condition (never refinished or repainted them), knew all the history of each piece, kept them out of direct sunlight, and never placed them in her attic.

But Mary made a huge error along the way; she procrastinated about making an estate plan for her personal assets and preparing for her own death.  In fact, she didn’t even have a legal will.

I remember meeting Mary about 6 months prior to her passing.  Her two children were present, and everyone wanted to know the values of her lovely possessions.  The children hoped that my visit would convince their mother of her urgent need to prepare a will, so her wishes would be known and fulfilled after her death.  At length, I spoke with Mary about the importance of documenting all her wishes for her children.  I shared stories of some past clients who did not plan ahead and what happened afterwards .. usually leaving behind a nightmare for the heirs.

I made the assumption that at 96, Mary had accepted her advanced age and her close proximity to death.  However, she had a great difficulty accepting her mortality.

“I do not need a will.  I have written my wishes for my children on a piece of notebook paper; that is good enough.  If it isn’t good enough, then my kids will just have to fight over it.”

The children looked at me and grimaced.  They knew the complications that awaited them if mom did not get legal assistance to prepare her last wishes and plans.  These complications can be years of red tape, tremendous financial pressures to settle the estate, family feuds, etc.  This is simply not fair to do to children, not to mention it’s a terrible legacy to leave!

What happened with Mary’s estate?

No one ever found her handwritten will on the yellow notebook papers; it became a nightmare for the family.  It became a litany of “Mom said I could have this” and “No, she promised that to me.”  Mary was wrong in her thought process and her lack of actions to distribute her property the way she wanted it to be.  She lost all of that because she did not legally prepare.

Isn’t it interesting that she cared so very deeply for her possessions while she was alive, yet did not have a legal plan for them upon her death?

 Mary’s reasons for procrastination will never be known to any of us.  Some are afraid of even talking about death.  We shouldn’t be; it’s a certainty.  The older generation seems to be parted into three groups.  Those that are completely prepared, those who won’t even discuss it and leave it all on their children’s shoulders, and those that simply sit on it for years and procrastinate the inevitable.  For those in the last two groups, life will be most difficult for your children and heirs.

The good news is there is still time, if you are reading this.  Take action today and leave a positive legacy.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

How Will People Remember You?

When it comes to making arrangements for estate distribution upon one’s death, too many of us are seized with a dramatic disease called procrastination (with a touch of denial).  We will all pass away one day; it’s a certainty.  But many do nothing about it while they are still very much alive.  They think in terms of “if” I die, not “when” I die.  Denial makes them procrastinate on very important personal decisions.  Should a crisis occur, are you and your loved ones prepared at all?

Procrastination and denial have a remedy called “AWARE.”

A stand for Anguish, Anxiety, even Anger

When a loved one dies and leaves no instructions on what to do with his/her estate and personal possessions, loved ones left behind become angry and resentful at having to mentally and physically handle another person’s lifetime accumulation, especially if nothing was done ahead to prepare and discuss.  The frustration, anxiety, and guilt are evident in their voices when they call me to help them dispose of the household possessions.

Alleviate this emotional strain by spending a small amount of time now, when you are mentally and physically able to arrange your affairs yourself.  A serious crisis rarely gives you any warning.

W stands for Will/Trust

Don’t leave life without one of these.  Your Last Will and Testament/Trust is the wisest document you can possess.  Have an attorney help you; template forms may not hold up in the statutory process for distributing assets.  Not just for those of wealth, a will is important for every well-prepared individual.  You need a will to insure you have designated the rightful beneficiaries and will eliminate other potential problems.

Other estate planning documents to discuss with an attorney include a Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a Declaration of Desire for a Natural Death, better known as a Living Will.  The investment of time and money here is well worth it, compared to the anguish you may cause your family and friends without these documents.

A stands for Action

Once you have your will in hand, develop a written plan that lists important people who could help your family or friends after your death.  Research and record those you consider to be trusted resources and experts, including their name, address, contact information, and explanation of what they do.  Maintain this plan of action with your will, so your family can find this upon your death.

These resources could include your attorney, financial planner, banker, real estate appraiser, personal property appraiser, estate sale professional, realtor, and other experts you trust to consult about a collection you may have (stamps, guns, books, coins, art).  Wisely include in your written plan the location of your address book, so out-of-town family and friends can be notified of your death.  Always make sure someone you really trust has passwords and keys to your computer, safe, and home.

R stands for Responsibility and Respect

Responsibility is one of the most lasting characteristics you can leave a family member or friend who must close out your affairs after your death.  When you have taken personal responsibility to handle your estate ahead of time, you are actually leaving a legacy of kindness and respect for those who must settle your affairs.  They will appreciate it and learn by example.

 E stands for Educate

Educate yourself by taking a personal inventory and appraisal of your personal property and how you want it distributed.  Educate others as to what is valuable to you and find out what may be valuable to them.  For example, your daughter might value a chipped ceramic plate that was the platter for family birthday cakes — no monetary value but heaping sentimental value for her.  Give away as much in life as you feel comfortable in giving.

Be AWARE of how you want people to remember you when you are no longer here to tell them yourself!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Are We Ever Really Ready?

I saw a post on Facebook about “Being Ready” in connection with making difficult decisions.  This thought crossed my mind: Are we ever really ready for anything major in our lives?

  • Life-altering decisions
  • financial strife
  • ill health
  • arriving at personal crossroads
  • leaps of faith we want to take but are concerned, procrastinating, or just plain terrified

These things seem to paralyze us and ultimately our decisions. Or, are we more concerned with the potential consequences of those decisions that are so frightening to us?

All of these things, whether good or not, can be pretty scary.

  • Should I take that job in another state?
  • Do I move forward and start that new company now?
  • Should I wait for the economy to get stronger?
  • Is the time right to move mom into a new living environment?
  • Is my son ready to go off to college?

The questions and issues are limitless … and overwhelming!

I think if we wait until we’re actually really ready, we may have regrets that we didn’t do it sooner while we were still able, or sadly, we may no longer be here to make those decisions.  I cannot speak for anyone else, but I refuse to live my golden years with “woulda-coulda-shoulda.”  Sometimes, you just have to do it or not.  The opportunity will not remain open forever.

I don’t think human nature is ever fully ready to do anything.  This is why nature itself forces us to go forward sometimes, such as giving birth.  Thank goodness nature “pushes” us into it, or we would rarely volunteer to do it!  We have a tendency to think too much and over-analyze (I put myself at the top of that list.).

Big decisions or life-altering events require some introspection and time, but not SO much time that the opportunity comes and then goes.  The truth is we know the answers already, deep down inside.  We already know what the answer should be.  Then our heads and hearts get in the way.  Nature provides us with that gut instinct.  If we would just pay attention to it and not block it, the answers would come more readily.

In my career, I see those who are prepared, those who are not prepared at all, and those who have made some preparations or plans for their future.  Trust me when I share that those who have a plan fare better than those who don’t.  But you can’t plan for everything.

Even in unexpected circumstances that may strike you or your family, that you are completely unprepared for, all you can do is your best!

Listen to your instinct.

Take a leap of faith every once in a while.

Believe that anything is possible.  Even if you are not ready, here it comes.

Embrace it or walk away from it.

Always try to think positively about your decisions.

It’s never productive to sit on a fence for too long.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 10:03 am  Comments (2)  
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The Plan

Recently, my teenage daughter and I attended a women’s self-defense course.  It wasn’t your typical “stomp on the foot and run away” class; I knew it would be considerably more hands-on and intense.  My daughter dragged her feet, doing everything possible to delay getting in the car and going to the class with old mom.  She eventually went along, not fully understanding at her young age, the necessity of planning ahead.womenselfdefenseconcordcatrans

Once the class began, she sat completely engaged by the middle-aged police captain, who specialized in transporting the most heinous jailed criminals from state to state.  He was there, he said, to tell us what the criminals have shared with him over 30 years of serving, so we could learn to protect ourselves from them.  Much to my surprise, my daughter “volunteered” to be his victim for the evening.  There she was, upfront where all could see, feeling a little unsure of herself.  When the hands-on, self-defense demonstrations began, it was like watching a Kung Fu movie.  She instinctively knew what to do, and he taught us some very fine points we had never heard of.  Now, we have a plan.

Through the years, I had taught her what I knew about being aware, walking with confidence, and if she senses danger, run like heck.  I would sit her down and have discussions about how we worry about her, and that she must learn ahead of time to be independent.  The world can be a harsh and dark place, I said, but she didn’t want to hear it.  Long story short, the police captain congratulated me for teaching her well and not sheltering her.  Those who are sheltered, who have their heads in the sand and don’t reach out to gain knowledge, won’t make it in a moment of crisis.  The last thing I would ever want to do is send her out there UNPREPARED.

That got me thinking.  My work in the estate industry is really no different from this captain teaching people how to defend themselves.  He is simply teaching them to:

  • PLAN AHEAD, and
  • BE PREPARED.

I do the same thing with my work, experience, knowledge, and foresight about what will happen with families if there is no plan, no will or trust, no advanced directives/living will, no guidance for the children.

If we don’t have any self-defense training, we will be left vulnerable, feeling frightened, and having absolutely no direction if a serious crisis occurs.  We would surely kick ourselves if something did happen and we “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.”  By then, it’s too late!

The same is true for an estate.  The family is left wide open to bad stuff and messy obstacles, because mom and dad didn’t plan ahead.  It throws everything into crisis mode; pain will only bring angst, regret, pain,and anger.  What a bad way to do things!  Formulate “THE PLAN” for you and your spouse, help your parents get their plan together, and discuss the plan with your own children and beneficiaries.

The problems always start when you are not looking, just like a distracted woman walking along a dark parking lot late at night, texting.  She becomes a target.  The way to NOT become a target in the estate world is to talk, TALK, TALK until all the details are ironed out ahead of time.

People email me from all over the world, saying, “Dad refuses to discuss it” or “Mom is going to do what Dad says.”

SOLUTION: Be sure they understand that if they insist on not making decisions themselves, decisions will be made for them, and those decisions will most likely NOT be decisions they would have made for themselves, placing extraordinary burdens on their children.

NOT discussing these issues is foolhardy.  Not planning ahead is almost unforgivable based on what I see each day.  This is their opportunity to tell you what they want and back it up with legal documents.

Refusing to discuss THE PLAN makes their own future uncertain and unpredictable; they open themselves to all kinds of potential events that could have negative impact on them and their care.

Just like women in self-defense class … with the right plan and preparation, you will not fail when “that” time comes!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on February 5, 2015 at 10:25 am  Comments (1)  
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Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

Living in an ever-changing world, I have concerns about the industry I love so much.  It has so many excellent qualities:

  • helping others during very challenging times,
  • serving the community in a positive way,
  • making a difference in the lives of those who are suffering,
  • offering a skill set not many people have,
  • guiding people towards trusted resolutions, to name a few.

But as with everything else in life, it has changes too.  You’ve got the good in the industry and the not-so-good.  While I have tremendous respect for my colleagues, and they have respect for me, there are many “Estate Experts” that are suddenly popping up in the marketplace.  I need this blog to circulate and help guide people away from these pop-up companies who claim to be experts, and are no such thing!

I am in a unique position, receiving close to 1,000 emails a week regarding the industry, sad stories, and complaints against companies I have never heard of and neither has anyone else.  Having written books and many articles, people gravitate towards me for answers.  I am all too happy to provide answers, as long as they can handle the truth.

Friends, you must be careful out there!  There is good and bad in every aspect of life; that includes all occupations, mine included.

  • Do not be fooled by fancy talk, or a “friend of a friend” who will give you a discount.  Talk is cheap.  A professional turns it all into action and gets it done correctly.
  • Don’t be persuaded to use someone whose commission is lower than a true professional.  You often get what you pay for.
  • Don’t feel compelled to use Aunt Martha’s cousin’s brother who “dabbles” in antiques.  They will not know how to maximize the proceeds, in your best interest.
  • Don’t just call someone out of the yellow pages or internet.  Know what you have, then find a way to sell using the best possible option for your possessions.
  • Don’t take the easy or cheap way because it will BOOMERANG and bite you in the rear.
  • Don’t pile up your great grandmother’s estate jewelry and take it to just any jeweler on the corner.  Why would you sell yourself short, when there are professionals who know what they are doing and will compare, communicate, negotiate, and sell it for the highest $$.
  • Don’t give away or throw away anything until a REAL professional walks through your door and advises you on your possessions.  Knowledge is power.  Know the facts.
  • Beware of “Cash Paid” advertisements.  Know who you are dealing with, or you may get low-ball offers.
  • Beware of searching on the internet, unless you know exactly the right way to search.  Know what an item actually sells for, not asking prices.
  • Before any property leaves your home/estate, RESEARCH and make sure you have done your due diligence in finding a reputable company to help you and guide you.
  • Ask for references, credentials, memberships, etc.  Then, CHECK them.
  • Beware of negative online complaints.  Yes, some are justified, but others are not.  Sometimes an upset client can post a negative comment because an item didn’t sell for as much as they expected.  That isn’t fair to mar a liquidator’s reputation.
  • Finally, don’t ignore your instinct.  It’s a powerful tool that tells you when something is good or amiss.

These tips are among the best advice I could ever offer.  They come with decades of experience and a heavy heart for those who have been taken advantage of.

Remember that the majority of estate liquidators are very good at what they do, have a deep passion for the industry, and help clients move forward with their lives.

It only takes one bad apple to soil the bunch.  If you are careful, you’ll choose the best fit for you!

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

 

Are You Leaving Behind a Gift or Guilt?

Are you leaving a gift or guilt for your loved ones?  A bounty or a burden?  It’s time to think about it.  Seriously.

Living or deceased, in about 90% of the cases I see, older adults are leaving a burden.  This is not criticism, but merely an observation.  I see older adults:

  • not thinning out or downsizing
  • not sorting through files from decades ago
  • not having old business/company paperwork shredded
  • not recycling magazines, catalogs, and newspapers that are piled high
  • not going through boxes that were packed when they moved in years prior
  • not sorting through closets which contain clothes not worn in years
  • not sorting through family photos (which means the children won’t know who’s in them)
  • not whittling down the kitchen’s abundance of glassware and cookware

In short, they are either unwilling or simply don’t have the energy to tackle this.  In either case, there is always professional assistance available to help; first, you have to want to do this.  Knowing human behavior, I think some of it is also avoidance.

If an older adult doesn’t want to do these things, what makes them think their kids or loved ones will want to do them?

I can tell you firsthand, they don’t.

We should start downsizing at 50 and keep doing a little each year, so what does pile up is manageable and never reaches that daunting level.  Here’s the hard-hitting reality of this blog: if you don’t do it now, you are leaving an overwhelming task for your children or loved ones to handle after you leave this place.  As a personal favor, please don’t do that.

One of the most horrible things I have ever heard is, “I’m leaving it for the kids to deal with.  I won’t be here.”  Many will consider this a very selfish way of thinking.

The children or loved ones we leave behind have very busy lives of their own.  They may still have children to raise and a full-time job.  They may be caring for other family members who are ailing.  It’s also possible they are up in age and not quite able to do the cleaning out themselves.  It is a task no one wants to tackle, especially when they happen to live 600 miles away and have to take time off work (often their personal vacation time) to clean out an estate.

If you could see what I see when they are in these homes putting in 110% effort with little progress, it is a sad sight to behold.  The legacy one intends to leave is not the one the children actually feel.  They feel sad, mad, and often have a dazed look on their faces as they complain that mom and dad had years to do this cleaning and never did.

“Why did they leave this for me?”

 One of the very best gifts or legacy you could leave your loved ones, is to begin the process of whittling down and clearing out, even if you have to hire help, or find trustworthy volunteers to do it.  You may not be there to see the relief and gratitude on their faces, but take it from one who knows.  It makes all the difference in the world to them.  They will truly appreciate your gift … and your legacy will live on.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Life is Hard; Massive Trend to Simplify

In the last 6 months, I have had about 15 clients preparing to leave the U.S.  Several are headed to Costa Rica, one to Belize, and the others mostly Belgium and Switzerland.  A couple of others are selling off all their worldly possessions and traveling the country, having sold their businesses and converted their belongings to cash.

In my practice, I am seeing a huge and fast occurring trend to simplify lives and, for lack of a better phrase, “get out of Dodge.”  It is interesting to sit back and watch this occur.  One would think the clients I am referring to are all affluent, but this is not the case.  Some just want a different life, a simpler life with less rushing about.  They are tired of being masters to large homes, caring for property, and owning more stuff than they can use.

They are even growing tired of the items they inherited, making peace and letting them go too.  From what I can tell, these heirlooms have become monkeys on their backs and they are doing something about it.

We have already seen this mindset in the younger generations X and Y.  The millennials have a thought-process all their own; it seems they came into this world not wanting stuff at all.  They prefer cash, not stuff.

The majority of my clients divesting themselves of nearly everything are 50+ years and see the writing on the wall.  These decisions usually come after their last parent has passed away, and the children are either grown or on their own.  They themselves are either retired or been let go of their jobs early, and having trouble finding a new one.

It might seem impulsive to many of you who may be aghast at the thought of selling your worldly possessions.  But this group of people, which is growing rapidly (based on the phone calls I receive each day), knows

  • they can’t take it with them,
  • the market is not doing us any favors, and
  • these things will be a burden to someone else someday.

I have followed up with many of these people, and here’s the kicker … They don’t regret a thing!  They are so happy they let go of the very things that anchored them; now they are free to enjoy their lives and do what they really want to do.

Funny thing, “stuff.”

So many of us equate our success to the acquisition of stuff.  Yet, in the end, it really doesn’t mean much because it cannot come with you.

Sure, we have our few favorite pieces we could never live without.  We humans are creatures of habit.  We only use 20% of what we own.  Think about it!  We wear our favorite clothes, favorite shoes and purses, and the rest just sits there.  When is the last time you really enjoyed all of the items you brought back from mom’s house after she passed?  Are they just sitting there on a shelf, kept but not truly cherished?

I am heeding my own advice and letting go of many things I spent 20+ years collecting.  My husband is wondering why I am suddenly purging.  It’s because we have too much, and we no longer want or need it.  I’d rather have the cash, more space, and more time to enjoy myself!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 9:20 am  Comments (3)  
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